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Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? (1972)

PG-13 | | Horror, Thriller | 17 March 1972 (USA)
A demented widow lures unsuspecting children into her mansion in a bizarre "Hansel and Gretel" twist.

Director:

Curtis Harrington

Writers:

David D. Osborn (original screen story) (as David Osborn), Robert Blees (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Shelley Winters ... Mrs. Forrest
Mark Lester ... Christopher Coombs
Chloe Franks ... Katy Coombs
Ralph Richardson ... Mr. Benton
Lionel Jeffries ... Inspector Ralph Willoughby
Hugh Griffith ... Mr. Harrison
Rosalie Crutchley ... Miss Henley
Pat Heywood Pat Heywood ... Dr. Mason
Judy Cornwell ... Clarine
Michael Gothard ... Albie
Jackie Cowper Jackie Cowper ... Angela Barnes (as Jacqueline Cowper)
Richard Beaumont ... Peter Brookshire
Charlotte Sayce Charlotte Sayce ... Katharine Forrest
Marianne Stone ... Miss Wilcox
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Storyline

A retelling of the old tale of Hansel and Gretel, but set in 1920's England. To the children and staff at the orphanage, Auntie Roo is a kindly American widow who gives them a lavish Christmas party each year in her mansion, Forrest Grange. In reality, she's a severely disturbed woman, who keeps the mummified remains of her little daughter in a nursery in the attic. One Christmas, her eye fall upon a little girl who reminds her of her daughter and she imprisons her in her attic. Nobody believes her brother, Christopher, when he tells them what's happened, so he goes to rescue her. Written by Mark

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Have You Ever Held a Skeleton in Your Arms? See more »

Genres:

Horror | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

- Rated PG-13 for some disturbing images and behavior | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 March 1972 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Gingerbread House See more »

Filming Locations:

Middlesex, England, UK See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Director Curtis Harrington, Hugh Griffith was an alcoholic, and his wife accompanied him to the set each day to ensure he didn't imbibe. See more »

Quotes

Albie: Mrs. Forrest, I think it's time to settle accounts.
Mrs. Forrest: Yes, of course. But, dear, could you run downstairs first and get me some lunch?
Albie: Get it yourself, Rosie Miller.
Mrs. Forrest: "Rosie Miller"? Albie, I don't recall ever giving you permission to call me by my professional name.
Albie: Rosie, I'm gonna' tell *you* what to do for once. You're gonna' write me a check... for 2,000 pounds.
Mrs. Forrest: [taken aback] Two thousand pounds?
Albie: Then we're gonna' wave bye-bye to you, me and Clarine. Then you can go back to vaudeville or ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Adjust Your Tracking (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Let No Man Steal Your Thyme
Performed by Shelley Winters
See more »

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User Reviews

Your finger's too thin!
28 October 2007 | by dbdumonteilSee all my reviews

The first part is as delightful as the cakes,the sweets ,the lollipops and the gingerbread men which the good lady serves to the orphans she welcomes for her Christmas party in her Gothic desirable mansion.This mysterious woman,with a racy past ,was married to a magician (remarkable scene when the two children venture into the old house full of magic props where once more,we are told that children are not necessarily devoid of cruelty.

After a seance in the dark with a charlatan medium,Roo (Winters)is quite sure that one of the orphans is her late daughter ,who rose from the dead. She wants to keep her in her house but her brother (Mark "Oliver" Lester ) is not prepared to accept it.He tells his sister about Grimm's sinister fairytale "Hansel und Gretel" in the gingerbread house.

The first hour is brilliant:the Christmas atmosphere is perfectly captured.The crepuscular quality of the film is tangible .Few other films of the seventies offer so many associations of guarded privacy and locked rooms,in such dreamlike darkness.Shelley Winters is outstanding particularly in that short scene when she goes from tears to a good laugh.

The film obviously loses steam in the last thirty minutes.Winters begins to overact to make up for the poor third of the script which is at once repetitive ,dull and predictable.We do not need Lester's voice over to understand that the children are Hansel and Gretel in the witch's den..As Freud and Bruno Bettelheim showed,fairy tales have an hidden meaning which the children unconsciously comprehend but the demonstration is pretty low brow.

Watch it anyway:its incredible several moments make it all worthwhile.

Like this?Try these....

"Les amants criminels" François Ozon 1996

"The night of the hunter" Charles Laughton 1955

"The nanny" Holt 1965

"Bunny Lake is missing" Otto Preminger 1965


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